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2020 Hyundai Venue Review

  • Spunky looks
  • Flexible cargo space
  • Hatchback practicality
  • 8.0-inch touchscreen
  • Automatic emergency braking is standard
  • Is it too small?
  • That grille, though
  • Wild colors
  • Stretching the definition of a crossover
  • Why spend more? Every Venue has critical safety and infotainment features, so the sky’s not the limit.

The 2020 Hyundai Venue is a subcompact crossover with big ideas.

Small crossovers like the 2020 Hyundai Venue now have a big stage. 

With the Venue, Hyundai has fielded a smaller companion to its own Kona crossover, not to mention an urban runabout five-door hatchback that fits neatly in the shadow cast by its big new Palisade.

Sold in SE and SEL editions, the 2020 Venue compares to vehicles such as the Nissan Kicks to the Ford Ecosport. It outzips them with a less buzzy interior, a more user-friendly cockpit, nicer seats, and a step-ahead warranty. 

Though it’s far from quick or plush, a $18,470 Venue SE or a $20,370 Venue SEL doesn’t have to be either. We give it a TCC Rating of 6.2 out of 10, before safety scores are in.

The Venue kicks off things with a rugged look that owes as much to bigger Hyundais as it does to the Yeti—the Skoda Yeti. It’s square-rigged and contrast-roofed, as quickly identifiable as a Kia Soul. Highlighted with bright paint choices and available 17-inch wheels, the snappy Venue body wraps around a cockpit made for two and some occasional friends and stuff, with a big touchscreen at the infotainment helm and well-chosen textures and trims padding the doors and dash.

A 1.6-liter inline-4 on loan from the Accent sedan couples with a 6-speed manual that will be as rare as Yeti sightings (depending of course on where you live), or a  continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) that ships power to the front wheels. All-wheel drive is a no-show, the Venue has only about 6.7 inches of ground clearance, and its strut-and-beam suspension takes the sting off the highways’ worst. With just 121 horsepower on tap and a perfect footprint for dart-and-shoot driving in traffic, it excels at short trips and tight parking spots. The EPA pegs CVT gas mileage at 32 mpg combined.
On its short 99.2-inch wheelbase, the 2020 Venue can’t cope with huge potholes, but it’s remarkably packaged to cope with up to four adults. Two in front get grippy fabric-covered seats, plenty of head room, and storage for smartphones. Rear-seaters have good head room too, with the concession that their knees will touch the front seatbacks. The Venue’s 18.7 cubic feet of cargo space swells to 31.9 cubic feet when the rear seats fold down, and its cargo cover tucks into a storage niche when it’s not needed.

Hyundai’s savvy with features on the 2020 Venue. It bundles automatic emergency braking into every model, along with an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a great 5-year-60,000-mile warranty. Blind-spot monitors, 17-inch wheels (up from standard 15-inchers), navigation, and keyless ignition all can be had on the more expensive versions—but no Venue can be outfitted with adaptive cruise control, leather upholstery, or power front seats. “Keep it simple” isn’t just a motto for the 2020 Venue; it’s the big idea for a little car that does mock-crossover very well.

Like a favorite ball cap, the 2020 Venue slips on just right.

The 2020 Venue borrows some elements from the automaker's larger crossovers, including split daytime running lights and headlights, but the smallest Hyundai crossover goes at it alone in its grille and high-contrast color scheme. The palette of colors includes Scarlet Red, Intense Blue, Green Apple, and Denim, the latter of which can be paired with a white roof and denim-colored interior—hardly subtle stuff, as is true of its robo-tastic LED running lights and a big grille that’s pinched and stretched into a little too elaborate form. The grille’s much more fancy than the car.

The Venue typically rides atop 15-inch wheels but big 17-inchers can fill out wheel wells punctuated by creased fender flares that belie the relatively small dimensions. The deeply sculpted body sides draw some inspiration from the Santa Fe, but it's clear that Hyundai's same-ness days of vehicle design are over. 

Inside, the Venue makes use of what space it has for passengers and incorporates the big 8.0-inch touchscreen into the dash instead of plunking it on top, which is common in many subcompact cars. The strong kinship with the bigger Kona’s cockpit wears well inside this slightly smaller hatchback, and Hyundai doesn’t skimp on base screen sizes or on finishing the cabin with nicely detailed trim.

What, you were expecting an AMG?

Performance is far from the point of the 2020 Hyundai Venue, so its score of 3 here isn’t a body-slam so much as respect for its mission. It’s not supposed to be fast or plush—and it isn’t.

Power comes from a 1.6-liter inline-4 that's borrowed from the Accent, teamed to a 6-speed manual or continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) that drives the front wheels only. The small inline-4 makes 121 horsepower and 113 pound-feet of torque and aims for fuel efficiency. We haven’t driven the manual-shift model—and expect fewer to be sold than the Venue counts in horsepower. With the CVT, the Venue’s agreeable enough. It scoots from stoplights with reasonable oomph, leaves no squealing trail of rubber behind as it consumes a little more than 10 seconds to hit 60 mph. It’s fine, and not unlike its rivals—and the Venue’s 4-cylinder doesn’t thrash along the way up the rev band. That’s a good thing, since highway merges demand a constant foot to the floor. The curb weight of just 2,557 to 2,732 pounds helps it along to good fuel economy, too.

It’s all prosaic from the engine down, too. Venues ride on a simple suspension with struts in the front and a torsion-beam rear axle. The Venue SE and SEL wear 185/65R-15 tires; SELs can trim up to 205/55R-17s. Don’t bother spending more on wheels; in either spec the Venue’s economy-car simple in the way its light steering and short wheelbase can dart and slip into holes in traffic. The Venue squirms side to side slightly as it pounds out 80-mph stretches of interstates, and pocks in the road smack through the body quickly. It doesn’t shake or shimmy, though, it just feels solid and stable.

Comfort & Quality
Two passengers can haul home plenty in the 2020 Venue.

The 2020 Venue snags a score of 7 for comfort and utility.

The Venue rides atop a relatively small 99.2-inch wheelbase, shorter than the Accent sedan by about 2 inches. From tip to tail, the Venue measures 158.9 inches, which is more than 5 inches shorter than the Kona and 3 inches shy on wheelbase. As a result, the confines are cozy for four adults—five adults may require NDAs before attempting.

The Venue’s 61.6 inches tall, though, and that pays off with excellent head room. Hyundai’s done a fine job of packaging the hatchback and in fitting well-shaped and well bolstered front seats separated by a center console.
Hard-wearing, black or gray cloth upholstery is standard in all cars, but denim-colored models offer synthetic leather upholstery teamed to denim material for the set too young to remember what patchwork denim looked like in the 1990s. The Venue’s rear doors can be snug for tall passengers, but once they’re seated there’s fine space and support—and 34.3 inches of leg room, as well as about 39 inches of head room.

The rear seats in all Venues fold in a 60/40-split arrangement and bump up the standard 18.7 cubic feet of cargo space up to 31.9 cubes for zesty home improvement-store runs. The cargo cover detaches and slides into a storage groove when it’s not necessary.

Where Hyundai scores above Ecosports and Kicks hatchbacks is in fit and finish. Plastic isn’t any less obvious, it’s just nicer than the greasy onslaught of dozens of trim pieces in the Ford, and the shinier bits in the Nissan. The Venue’s mod fabrics and mesh-grained plastic dash feel more Target than Toughskins.

The Venue plays a strong technology game, but crash tests aren’t complete.

Neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS has crash-tested the 2020 Venue, but it shouldn’t take long for what promises to be a popular new car.

Every Venue has standard automatic emergency braking, active lane control, driver-attention monitor, and high-beam assist. Blind-spot monitors and rear cross-traffic alertare available on select trims. 

We’ll update this section when data surfaces.

The 2020 Venue stuffs its face at the features bar, nom nom nom.

We give the new Venue a 9 for features. It’s an excellent value, with lots of standard equipment, a great 5-year/60,000-mile warranty, and clear and useful infotainment.

Every $18,470 2020 Hyundai Venue SE rides on 15-inch wheels and gets power features, cruise control, Bluetooth, a USB port, cloth upholstery, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. 

The $20,370 Venue SEL adds automatic climate control, and can be fitted with 17-inch wheels, satellite radio, navigation, heated front seats, keyless ignition, and a power sunroof. A $23,170 Denim Edition adds blind-spot monitors, synthetic leather and cloth seats, and special blue paint with a white roof.

No Venue has power seats, leather upholstery, or adaptive cruise control. Hyundai saves those features for its bigger SUVs.

Fuel Economy
Gas mileage earns the Venue a “frugal” tag.

The Venue’s fuel economy can’t keep pace with Hyundai’s own big, aero-smooth sedans, but it still outpoints many small hatchbacks and crossovers. It’s a 6 here.

The base manual-transmission Venue earns EPA ratings of 27 mpg city, 35 highway, 30 combined. With the CVT, it’s pegged at 30/34/32 mpg, a couple of miles per gallon stronger than a Honda HR-V.

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